My Ground Control Station Project - RC Groups
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Dec 01, 2010, 09:28 AM
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My Ground Control Station Project

This project is designed to have a few things in mind

1) Flexibility. Currently, it supports NMEA, uBlox, SiRF, MediaTek (DIYDrones Custom), ArduIMU Binary, ArduPilot ASCII, ArduPilot Mega Binary and UavDevBoard.
2) Flexible screen size. My original intent was to use this program on a Netbook at 1280X600 but it will go as small as 800X400.
3) Ease of use. There are LOTS of other GCS applications out there that show far more data. The issue I've had is getting them to work.

For more information:
To download:

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Dec 01, 2010, 05:38 PM
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F-86FLIER4LIFE's Avatar
looks really cool but im still confused as to what it actually does
Dec 01, 2010, 07:12 PM
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Excellent question. It's a ground station for a UAV, FPV or even just a GPS in your plane. If you took a cheap NMEA GPS (say $35) and added (2) X-Bee units and the compatible bases (about $100, +$35 = about $135 total) then you could stream the data from your plane down to a laptop on the ground. Since I'm using Google Earth, the maps can be cached by loading up your mission at home (connected to the internet) and moving around a bit. Once cached, the live internet connection is no longer needed.

A single GPS unit (NMEA, uBlox, SiRF, MediaTek, etc) will only provide you with lat, long, heading, altitude and speed (plus some other data points having to do with satellite count and GPS lock). Once you add an IMU unit like ArduIMU, then you get pitch, roll and yaw (yaw is different than heading in that it's not pointing towards north, but instead tells you that the sensor detected a rotation on the Z axis). The last step would be an Auto-pilot like ArduPilot (mega or non-mega), AttoPilot, UavDevBoard, PicoPilot or any other Auto-pilot that outputs a language that I can speak (adding new languages right now). These units have more data including Waypoint #, distance to waypoint, current mode and lots and lots of custom tuning options. I'm working on the MAVlink protocol right now which will allow for sending commands (and possibly flying the plane via view link) on the ArduPilot Mega and UavDevBoard. AttoPilot compatibility is coming soon too which is also 2-way.

In addition, you can record your flight and I have plans to give summaries of flight statistics including max and avg speed, alt, distance from home, azimuth... I'd also like to add an interface out to an antenna tracker system with a small Atmel chip and some servo outputs. Nothing fancy, but basically, a way to track your plane in the sky to get the best signal possible.

I mentioned this above, but if you have access to a live video feed from the plane (using FPV equipment) then you can watch via the computer and in the future, record your flight.

During your flight, the Google Earth API updates your flight location in real-time and allows for several different view modes (chase cam is my favorite but first person is pretty cool too). The 3D model will pitch roll and yaw with the IMU board showing your current attitude as the other instruments are pretty straight forward and act like you'd expect.

Lastly, the whole screen is sizable down to 800X400 which should cover everything from 1990 on (except your grandma's computer which still runs at 640X480). At that resolution, there is just no real estate to work with....
Last edited by HappyKillmore; Dec 02, 2010 at 07:58 AM.
Dec 01, 2010, 07:28 PM
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F-86FLIER4LIFE's Avatar
wow man just wow. do you have any youtube links of it in action?
Dec 01, 2010, 08:12 PM
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JussiH's Avatar
Looking good. Subscribed!
Dec 02, 2010, 09:45 AM
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I haven't put together a video yet. This guy was asking a question about it and posted what he was seeing. He's using my Ground Control Station and my GPS emulator to simulate a mission using an ArduPilot... but it's not "in the loop" which means he's not getting any data back from the AP to the emulator...which is his question. Not a great video...

At some point, I'll have to clean my office, put on some pants and record a split screen video with my webcam and GCS to show everything working together.

HappyKillmore Ground Control Station Demo (4 min 46 sec)
Dec 02, 2010, 10:19 AM
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F-86FLIER4LIFE's Avatar
M looking at doing a uav fpv type plane this summer using the new parkzone radian pro for it glad to see someone made just what I was thinking about making!
Dec 02, 2010, 10:37 AM
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There you go.... check ouy They have LOTS of stuff on the subject.
Dec 02, 2010, 12:19 PM
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Charles B's Avatar
Nice Project again !

Good luck
Dec 02, 2010, 01:17 PM
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Thanks Charles. Lots of work still to do....
Dec 02, 2010, 04:28 PM
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Nice, any chance it will run on a Mac?
Dec 02, 2010, 04:41 PM
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If your Mac runs Windows with DirectX, then yes!

If not, there are about 10 other open-source Qt based GCS programs out there for you to try.
Dec 07, 2010, 09:00 AM
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F-16FLIER. Here's a video from a developer for UavDevBoard testing with an additional magnetometer for better attitude data.

Testing a DIYDrones magnetometer in HK's GCS (3 min 27 sec)
Mar 22, 2011, 08:23 PM
Registered User

Ground Control Station Editing


Firstly, I'd like to say that the HappyKillmore GCS is amazing! I was just wondering if there was any way to edit the GCS. I wanted to use only the airspeed, GPS and live video feed. I tried researching on ways to do it, but figured the best person to ask is the person who created it!

I am new to programming and would appreciate your input on this matter.

Thanks and regards,

Mar 22, 2011, 10:17 PM
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Currently, you can't select only airspeed. Ground speed comes with it in the same control. Also, you can turn the instruments on and off in the settings form, but it's really designed to have more than one on the instruments tab...and by "GPS" do you mean Google Maps? I have had requests for a different "mode" where the instruments are overlayed on either Google maps or the live video, but I haven't done any work on that yet.

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